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The history and science of cotton candy is often overlooked. But under the cover, it's actually quite interesting.

Machine-spun cotton candy was, strangely enough, invented by a dentist, William Morrison, and confectioner, John C. Wharton, in the year 1897. It made great success at the 1904 World's Fair, known as "Fairy Floss", where it sold 68,655 boxes at 25 cents each, equivalent to about 6 dollars each today. Joseph Lascaux, a dentist from New Orleans, Louisiana, invented a similar cotton candy machine in 1921. In fact, the Lascaux patent named the sweet confection “cotton candy”, which is the delicious item we know, recognise, and love today.

Interestingly, Tootsie Roll of Canada Ltd., actually is the world's largest cotton candy manufacturer, and are able to pull off making tootsie rolls, at the same time. Wow! They must be working overtime or something...

The United States declared National Cotton Candy day to be December 7th. That was about four months ago, and will occur again in about seven months.

Typical machines used to make cotton candy include a spinning head enclosing a small "sugar reserve" bowl, into which a charge of granulated, colored sugar (or separate sugar and food coloring) is poured. Heaters near the rim of the head melt the sugar, which is squeezed out through tiny holes by centrifugal force. Centrifugal force is when you spin so fast, you get glued to a wall. For example, if you stood in a room that started to rotate, if the room went fast enough, you'd throw up on the wall, and get a whole bucket of vomit straight up in your face. Colored sugar packed specially for the process is milled with melting characteristics. Also, size is key. Rock sugar crystals are too big to pass through the holes. Fine granulated sugar passes through easily, because, well, IT'S THINNER.

Cotton candy is first white, as it's made of sugar. Then, coloring is added to give the candy it's color. In the US, a wide range of floss flavors are found, but the blue raspberry and pink vanilla dominate. This is what we see on the outside of the cotton candy. It's flavoring added, not flavored sugar.

Types of cotton candy include Soan Papdi in India, Dragon's beard candy in China, Klul-tarae in Korea, Pashmak in Iran, and this last has countless more items.

Sadly, we cannot eat this for life. And here's why. If we eat too much of this, we would go on a sugar high. We would have to spend hours on the treadmill, and then go on a sugar crash. Then, our teeth could decay, giving us plaque, and very weak gums. And then, comes of course, possible death, due to an infection from weak gums.

So, in conclusion, cotton candy is amazing. The history is backwards, (dentists inventing candy), the science is forwards, (it's science), but the consequences are just plain evil. DON'T EAT TOO MUCH!

Reader Interactions


  1. Great information Himank, I didn’t know there was such a big history of Cotton Candy. You did a great job on this!

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